All change please…

Published on Thursday 18 June 2015 by in News with no comments






The 10th annual Masterclass in business & IT alignment was held at the old stationhouse in Bloemendaal. The theme was ‘Hoe zorg je nu voor echte verandering’ (How can you ensure REAL change).

All Change here! Get on board before the train leaves without you.

A very appropriate metaphor. We are in a time of radical change as far as IT goes. On the one side we have the explosion of emerging technologies, shadow IT, the internet of things, the ability of IT to shape new business propositions…..on the other side we have changing models of provision such as cloud services and the changing role of the traditional IT organization.

IT organizations are in a transformation. Having to shake off their ‘technology’, ‘process’ and ‘service’ focus to be more ‘business’ focused. If we do not realize this transformation then the business will go elsewhere.

But this concept of transforming IT organizations is not new. Every year it is a theme. Every year we talk about business and IT alignment and yet every year the business becomes increasingly frustrated and skeptical. The latest SIM survey reveals ‘CIO Worries: Security, Talent & (Sadly) ‘Alignment‘ are still top issues. An article on also  suggested a talent problem in IT and a pressing need for ‘business skills’ and if that isn’t enough an article on CIO.COM revealed a big problem with communication skills….reason enough for the Masterclasses. Rob Poels from Twynstra Gudde and lecturer at the Nyenrode MBA in Business & IT was also a guest speaker at the Masterclass. Rob talked about the ‘mopperrelatie’ (complaint relationship) between business and IT, stressing the role of ‘Information manager’ as a possible bridging role. (See our number 1 scoring ABC card for Business & IT alignment issues below).











Rob went on to suggest that both business and IT need to change behaviors. IT needs to create a role as trusted advisor and the business needs to display digital leadership – especially in relation to what he described as a ‘dramatic change’ – referring to Peter Hinssen‘s book ‘the new normal’ is digital – zero tolerance for digital failure, which creates an additional sense of urgency to realize what we still call business and IT alignment.

Our surveys revel that 70% of organizations do not get the hoped for value from their best practice investment

Let’s implement ANOTHER framework! Every year we promise to change, we develop more and more frameworks to throw at the problem and then blame the framework when we still haven’t realized the required change. We have had ITIL V2,V3,V2011, ISO20000, MOF, COBIT, ASL, BISL. We see a growth in new frameworks and methods such as DEVOPS, AGILE, SCRUM, IT4IT. These frameworks are just tools. And remember ‘a fool with a tool is still a fool’. It is not the frameworks, it is our ability to change! It is all about people. The ABC of ICT. The Attitude, Behavior and Culture…..oh no! another approach….another buzzword to add to our buzzword bingo. I am not going to go into ABC and what it is, suffice to say we have been doing assessments using the ABC of ICT cards for more than 10 years and every year the same results come up again, and again and again.

ABC is like an Iceberg ‘much of it is hidden, we don’t see it, we don’t talk about it and we HOPE it won’t damage the carefully laid out ‘implementation’ of our latest pet framework…..










Yet the ABC Iceberg is capable of stopping your improvement program dead in its tracks or sending it off onto a different direction….ending up in a place you didn’t want to be. Our surveys reveal that 70-80% do not get the HOPED for value from investing in best practice frameworks. One of the main reasons for failure is ‘resistance’ to change. As humans we don’t readily embrace changes to our behavior. It is difficult, requires time, effort, practice, collaboration and support. It’s easier to go back to the old behaviors, the old habits. They are more tried, trusted, familiar and comfortable….and if there are no discernable consequences of doing it the old way then heh! Who am I to rock the boat?

Support – from managing work to leading change… managers are poorly equipped in terms of  organizational change capabilities’

At the Masterclass I once again conducted an ABC workshop to give managers an instrument and approach to partly help them deal with change.  We performed the ‘resistance exercise’. This exercise helps make the hidden ABC Iceberg visible!

‘Which resistance do we see, or expect to see when we try and make changes using best practices such as ITIL/CobIT/BISL?’ Top chosen cards: Attitude:

  • No understanding of business impact and priority
  • ITIL (or other best practice framework) is the objective….not what it should achieve
  • IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case


  • Saying YES but meaning NO
  • Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing
  • We don’t measure our value contribution to strategy


  • Not my responsibility
  • Plan, Do, Stop….No real continual improvement culture
  • Them and Us culture – opposing and competing forces

The next task given the teams was to identify concrete actions and take-aways for addressing what they considered was the TOP card (based upon cause & effect or which card has the most negative impact on business ‘Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks’ (VOCR)). ‘What desirable, visible, behavior must the CIO, Management team, line manager, process manager, employee’ display to solve this ‘worst practice’’? (a default set of stakeholders chosen by me. The team quite rightly added ‘Business unit manager’, ‘business executive (board)’ as stakeholders). Unfortunately we did not have time for a detailed analysis. (We had 10 minutes!). I asked each team to name up to 3 actions – ‘visible behavior’ that the chosen stakeholder would need to display to solve one of the above chosen cards. Behavior that they had identified or learnt in the last 8 masterclass sessions. These were the cards and actions: No understanding of business impact and priority

  • CIO: talk to the business about strategy (VOCR – Benefits/resources/Risks) develop an understanding and communicate this to all other stakeholder groups. (Fulfill in fact a BRM role).
  • CIO: Play the ‘Secret boss’ (A television series in which the boss in disguise walks around the workplace to see feel and experience the issues)
  • Management Team: Translate the strategy of the business (VOCR) into IT (People, Process, Product, Partner) capabilities and vice versa (so that the business understands its responsibilities for Digital leadership)
  • Management team: Walk the talk, Lead by example by facilitating and supporting communities within IT (Passionate teams/groups) within a boundary of purpose (VOCR).

We don’t measure our value contribution to strategy

  • Line manager: Cost/benefit analysis of own department/team. What is our value? How do w contribute to VOCR, giving department/teams a sense of purpose and working towards shared goals.

These were defined actions for solving issues that are repeated year in and year out. Defined actions within 10 minutes! Imagine what could be done if we involved the relevant stakeholders for 2 hours?










I then asked who would do anything about these actions? A top chosen ABC card world-wide is ‘not my responsibility’. People attend conferences, training courses or these types of Masterclasses, nod their heads and then……do nothing! Which is why these issues come back again and again. I challenged both the Masterclass organizers AND the teams:

Team: What learning or actions will you now take away and apply to solve the issues we identified today? Go and apply them, document them, get a business sponsor to sign off that they see, feel and experience the benefits and come and present at next years Masterclass

Masterclass organization: Follow up in 3 months with the delagates. ‘What have they applied, what went well, what didn’t work or wasn’t easy, what needs adding to the Masterclass learning and skills’?, and to invite the ‘best case’ back next year to present. Give an award to the be case ‘Application of Masterclass skills to solve a business & IT alignment related problem and recognized impact of applying the behavior’.

I am curious to see if anybody gets on the change train…..or whether they stay on the platform and watch the train leave’.

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *